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March 8, 2012     The Adams County Record
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March 8, 2012
 

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Page 10 Wednesday, March 7, 2012 The Legenc[ of the Rock Flat 00[}iamond by Dale Fisk Every once in a while someone asks me about something that I&apos;ve never heard of in my life. Recently I was asked about the discovery of the largest diamond ever found in the U.S. that was supposedly found near the Brundage Mountain Road not far from the highway. Well, I thought this had to be one of the wildest stories I'd ever run across. Until I Googled it. At <legendsofamerica. cam/ id-facts.html> I found this: "One of the largest diamonds ever found in the United States, nearly 20 carats, was discovered near McCall, Idaho." At another web site this: "Idaho has seventy-two kinds of gem stones. This is more than any other state, and second only to Africa in the rest of the world. Agates, jade, opal, garnet (pink, green, and red), and diamonds- to name a few-have all been found in Idaho. It is believed the biggest diamond ever found in the United States - weighing nineteen and one-half carats was found between McCall and New Meadows." That's not much to go on. Back in 1892 there were reports of diamonds being found in Idaho, but the expert quoted in the New York Times (January 4, 1893) thought it was nonsense. I found an 1869 reference to small diamonds found in the placer diggings of Idaho: "They're found under the same conditions as those found in California... picked up by gold miners. A stir is created in the local papers. References are made as the abundant yield of Idaho diamonds." At one web site there was this: "Diamonds have reportedly been found in Idaho and Oregon in connection with the recovery of platinum in gold placers." Diamonds are found in Arkansas What seems to be a legitimate story of one of the biggest diamonds ever found in North America is stranger than fiction. Bill "Punch" Jones was playing horseshoes in Arkansas in 1928 when one of the shoes evidently plowed up what looked like a pretty piece of quartz--a mineral common in the area. Jones kept the stone in a wooden cigar box inside a tool shed for fourteen years--through the Great Depression when.they certainly could have used the money that the thing was worth. In 1942, Punch brought the stone to a geology professor at Virginia Tech. The professor he showed it to about fell over in shock. The rough diamond weighed 34,48 carats and measured 5/8 of an inch across. Punch Jones was killed in WWlI, and his family finally auctioned the diamond through Sotheby's auction house. I don't know what it brought. But then there is the "Uncle Sam" Diamond" -- a 40.23 carat white diamond that is also claimed to be the largest diamond ever found in North America. It was found at the Crater of Diamonds (Arkansas) in 1924 before the property was opened as a State park. The park is open to the public and, for a small fee, visitors can dig for diamonds and other gemstones. Park visitors find more than 600 diamonds each year of all colors and grades. More clues Larry Kingsbury, the Payette National Forest Archaeologist, told me the area where the diamond was supposed to have been found was at a mine operated by the Rock Flat Mining Company as early as 1910. There is a mine tunnel that, at least at one time, went all the way through the hill between the west side of Brundage Mountain Road and / Highway 95. After you go around the first bend in the highway west of the Brundage road, there is a small concrete abutment in the ditch next to the hill. This is the west end of the tunnel. It turns out Randall Brooks researched the same subject for the Star News back in 1985, and Tom Grote sent me a copy of that article. After finding the same vague references I did, he finally found Ran Parks, a McCall man who knew about as much about the diamond as anybody. Mining operations have occurred in that area off and on all through the twentieth century, much of it done by the Stewart family of Boise, known for "Stewarts' Gem Shop." A pond excavated by mining is still evident not far off the Brundage road. Parks told Brooks that there were about 60 diamonds of various sizes found in this pond. As the story goes, a representative of the Tiffany Company of New York was investigating the gems found at the Rock Flat mine in the 1930s, having noticed the presence of "Kimberlite," a blue-gray clay in which diamonds are found. The man found the diamonds by setting up a "grease plate" to process concentrate from the mine. Although other reports said the biggest stone weighed 19.5 carats, Park. said the one he knew about weighed 6.7 carats, but was of high quality. And there the trail goes cold. The whereabouts of the diamond, whatever its size, is still a' mystery. But one tantalizing clue did surface. Could this be it? Larry Williamson's mother, Helen Ghormley, lives in Payette. Back in 1947 she was working at the Nampa Photo Shop when a man came in with a huge diamond that he wanted them to photograph, which they did. Helen remembers making a remark about the diamond being very valuable, and the man replying, "Yes, it should be worth a dime or two." The Adams County Record Answers to last week's Crossword A N A 13 E N S I V E B A Answers to Last Weeks Word Search Helen put that picture in her scrap book where it has remained for the past 65 years! I stopped by her apartment and copied the photo, which accompanies this article. Helen said the back side of the diamond (away from the camera) seemed to be imbedded in ordinary rock, and the whole thing was about the size of the palm of one's hand. On the back of the photo there is a note that seems to say the photo was put in a 1947 publication, but the name is covered by a spot of glue and scrapbook paper that is impossible to remove Sudoku Answers 8421659 7284561 5639742 61 53478 391682 489723 954231 1 76598 23781 9 _ 3 8 9 4 5- 6 1 7 6, 3 2 514 without destroying part Of the photo. So the mystery continues and the legend lives on. If anyone knows more about this, please contact me. THE AD,K.MS COUNTY RECOI00D'S BU.00INESSDI1 .CTOKN" The Northwest's Largest Independent Tire Dealer Oregon Washington Idaho Montana * California * Nevada FOSTER REAL ESTATE GENE FOSTER BROKER ENEGFOSTER@MSN.COM OFFICE (208) 253-3100 CELt (208) 566-1 150 119 IILINOSAVE COUNCIL Weiser 549-2534 McCall 634-6042 250 E. 1st St. 500 Deinhard Ln. Serving Adams County since 1980 RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL Toll Free 1-888-634-7176 McCall, Idaho C&M LUMBER CO. New Meadows, Idaho cm.doitbest.com 208-347-Do it/ or Best Plumbincj and Mechanical Commercial and Residential Service Bill I{wluk 1) Box 823 ('ell: (X-318-3997 ('ouncil, hlaho Landline: 253-1151 3612 Business D rectory Spot ight RAY GROVES EXCAVATING Paving - Grading : Excavating P.O. Box 799 2354 Orchard Road Council, ID 83612 Phone (208) 253-4321 Alpine Store Highway 95, Indian Valley 256-4444 *Groceries *Fresh Jerky *Fresh Dell Meats *Sandwiches *Fishing and *Much More! hunting supplies State Farm Insurance Protect your family with the insurance that comes with Good Neighbor Service i Mazyalm Allen Agent P.O. BoxK Council ID 83612 - 253-4502 or 800-257-4502 ' LEARWATER I[CIRIE-, II[C. Pre-Mix Concrete Sand & Gravel POB 2270 McCall, Idaho 83638 Ontario Office 208-634-5101 i -800-576-7821 Schwartz Construction Troy Schwartz  -Excavating 253-4210 :_ -Road Building -Snow Removal  -Rock Products 2331 Old Hornet Rd -Septic Systems Council -Grundfos Water Well Pumps STATE FARM INSURANCE Your State Farm Agents: Maryann Allen, Owner Serving Council for 30 years Jeanne Merritt Servin 9 Council for 22 years Maryann and Jeanne would [ike you to know that they do more than just offer insurance, they also offer financial services. They true[y appreciate and value every customer that they serve. They believe in puttin8 the needs of their policy holders first, to help them manage the risks of every day life and recover from the unexpected. "It's what being a State Farm agent is allabout!" 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